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To win the election, Jeremy Corbyn is taking lessons from Vote Leave

The Labour leader kicked off his campaign with a speech that riffed on the Brexit campaign's best lines. 

According to YouGov, the percentage of people who expect a Labour victory on 8 June is smaller than the number who believe that the Moon landings were faked.

So Jeremy Corbyn had a tall order in front of him to make the prospect of anything other than a Tory victory seem remote. His response? An address in which he riffed off the “big argument” contained within his Easter policy blitz: that Labour will do something for everyone funded by those with the most.

Allies of Corbyn’s often point out that for all much of the political elite longs for a new party speaking to the “liberal centre”, the missing product in the British political marketplace is the message that Vote Leave appropriated, but the resulting government is not that keen on: more money for public services and opposition to the European Union in general and immigration in particular. Two of those three are natural fits for Corbyn, a Eurosceptic of long vintage, but the third is more difficult.

Some in the leader’s office believe they have an offer that can work as well. “You have to have something that speaks to that anger,” one aide says, “So I think you can be in a good place on immigration if you are saying: but we will send bankers to jail.”

That’s why Philip Green, who runs the Arcadia group of stores, was named-and-shamed as someone with something to fear from a Labour government. Team Corbyn hope that if they can do with “elites” what the right has done with “immigrants”, they will not only learn from Vote Leave – but emulate their shock victory. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.